Press Releases

Passenger Traffic Shows Modest Growth at 3% Year Over Year as Air Freight is Flat for May

Montréal, 05 July 2012 – On a global level, demand for air travel has consistently posted positive year over year growth for every month for the last two years. Much of the growth can be attributed to airports based in emerging markets. In May 2012, the Middle East (+11.5%), Africa (+9.4%), and Asia-Pacific (+7.1%) all posted strong gains in passenger traffic whereas the developed economies of Europe and North America experienced only slight increases of +0.8% and +0.7% respectively. International traffic continues to show the greatest gains in year over year passenger volumes at +4.3%. Worldwide domestic travel markets have experienced slightly weaker growth at +2 percent. In Europe the economic slowdown has affected travel in domestic markets throughout the region with domestic passenger traffic contracting by -1.6% as compared to May 2011.
Trade in international air freight markets remains sluggish in several regions as growing fears of a global recession adversely affects business confidence. Overall growth in freight markets was almost flat for the month of May. The month of May saw a decline of -1.8% in international freight traffic. Notwithstanding, domestic markets have resurged as compared to 2011. The major freight hubs of Asia-Pacific (+5.2%) and North America (+8.3%) posted strong gains for the month of May. European airports experienced across the board declines in international (-5.9%) and domestic freight markets (-5.6%).

ACI World’s Economics Director Rafael Echevarne commented, “For the most part, the story remains the same with respect to air travel. Regardless of the downside risks in the major economies of Europe, it continues to be business as usual for the international traveller. When we look at the aggregate sum of international passenger traffic over the last twelve months, we see a growth rate of almost 6% year over year, which is impressive given the economic environment. International air freight, on the other hand, sings a different song. International freight has declined by -2% over the last twelve months showing the decline in global trade whilst there seems to be a greater focus now on domestic freight markets.”

May 2012 (% CHANGE)
May 2012
Over  May 2011
Year to date
 rolling year
International passenger
Domestic passenger
Total passenger
International freight
Domestic freight
Total freight


Notes for editors

1.  Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide association of airports, has 580 member airport authorities, which operate over 1,650 airports in 179 countries. ACI’s mission is to promote professional excellence in airport management and operations, and this mandate is carried out through the organization’s multiple training opportunities, as well as the customer service benchmarking programme, a wide range of conferences, industry statistical products and best practice publications.

2.  PaxFlash and FreightFlash statistics are based on a significant sample of airports that provide regular monthly reports to ACI. They represent approximately 60% of total passenger traffic and 70% of total freight traffic worldwide.  Commentary, tables and charts are based on preliminary data submitted by participating airports and are therefore subject to change.

3. Regional results and trend graphics are provided on the following pages.

4. For further information, contact Cheryl Marcell